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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 27, 2009 3:30pm-4:00pm EDT

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federal criminal justice system." we have continued our investigation, one of the subjects about mr. rowe will be questioned will relate to these kinds of issues and we referred the matter to the department of justice, which eei'm happy to s has given another job to the office of professional responsibility, which is conducting investigations of what happened with respect to the siegelman and several of the other cases that i mentioned. we continue to closely monitor that issue as well. sixth, another the sixth issue is one that we began work on before. former attorney general ashcroft testified yesterday. we heard testimony from those talking about the issue and the problems created. there has been some reform in
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the department of justice. there have been further controls placed on these. there is also legislation pending the was introduced by several new jersey members of congress. we hope it will be seriously considered in this congress as we go forward on the issue. seventh, abuse primarily by the f.b.i. of national security ledgers. these are essentially warrantless search warrants that the f.b.i. is allowed to undertake in the name of the war on terror. they can't produce important information. -- they can produce important information. information, but also, as another series of terrific reports by the inspector general indicated had been subject to very serious abuse and violations. the fbi and the department have made some reforms in this area. the ig is following up to see how effectively they've been
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implemented. we're following up as well. we're expecting a report reasonably soon by the ig on exigent letters, a particularly abusive method being used for awhile and discontinued, and we expect to continue to monitor this. there's actually been legislation proposed by congressman nadlor to reform the use of nsls. we continue to be very active, i think n that area. eighth, the issue of state secrets. again, something that we began in the prior congress. serious issues about the abuse by the justice department of the so-called state secrets doctrine not just to restrict information, but literally to throw out of court completely allegations of serio abuse by intelligence, by other agencies with respect to issues like the warrantless wiretapping rendition and many others. i think this is the area where most of our members would agree we've seen the greatest disappointment from the new
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administration, because the new administration unfortunately has, in a number of cases, continued many of the policies, many of the arguments made by the justice department, indeed in one case there's an argument they've made things worse by arguing for sort of a sovereignty immunity claim with respect to some of the issues being raised. we had yet another hearing on this subject, fairly recently, both our committee and the senate judiciary committee are ready to mark up legislation that would reform this area. we are waited with bated breath for the results of a review by the justice department and policy recommendations. the president himself said in a nationally public press conference that there are serious problems with this doctrine but unfortunately, we've not yet seen real change in this area. we're very much hoping to see that. we're very much hoping to work with the administration as much as possible on that but congress
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will continue to monitor and potentially propose and pass legislation in this important area as well. nine, the office of legal counsel. i've referred to that office before, but we conducted an oversight hearing of that office in the last congress, have continued to work serious issues, serious problems with the extent to which that office which is supposed to be a neutral, careful arbitor of constitutional issues for the executive branch, has been turned -- had been turned into an office that effectively told the white house what they wanted to hear with respect to warrantless wiretapping, interrogation, et cetera, et cetera. now, again, there's been real progress here. there was a bipartisan statement of principles with which members of our committee strongly agreed, that was signed by former people of the democratic and republican parties that was adopted and several of the individuals who signed that are already working in the office of
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legal counsel today and one of the drafters of that principle, dawn johnson, has been nominated to be head of the office of legal counsel, a nomination that we hope will come to the senate floor, and which we hope will produce even more in terms of reform. we've had some success already in the sense that olc has released, as you know, many opinions that were held secret by the prior administration. there are more to come, and we continue to be in discussions with the justice department in the hope of trying to pry more of those loose as we go. but there is more to do in this area, as well as what's happened in the past. and the final area i want to mention are abuses with respect to voting rights enforcement. the civil rights division was one of those places where our work and the inspector general's work found tremendous amount of politicization, and that was seen in results that occurred in objections that weren't made to restrictive voting practices and other actions that were taken. we conducted a series of oversight hearings, one of which
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led to the resignation, you may recall, of john tanner, then the head of the voting section, whose conduct i won't get into detail but you all remember it. we continue to be very active in monitoring what's happening in the voting section of the civil rights division. there will, i understand, likely to be a vote fairly soon on a new head of the civil rights division. there has clearly been change already in a positive direction. we're hearing from career attorneys in the division that, again, a new day has dawned. they feel they can go forward and take the kinds of actions to protect civil rights that need to be done, and fortunately, because of the supreme court decision today, section five of the voting rights act remains alive and well and we hope will continue to be enforced vigorously, but there is more to do in this area. our report, for example, recommended changes to the manual with respect to election offenses, that we think need to be made to be sure that conduct
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is taken before elections, and we are very hopeful there will be more in a positive direction from the new administration, but we remain ever vigilant in our oversight to help ensure that that takes place. now, frankly, believe it or not, i haven't talked about everything that we've been doing, and will be doing. we still have the patriot act, three provisions of which expire this year, and have to be considered. there are many other issues that the committee under chairman conyers' exceptional stewardship will continue to work on, and we appreciate tremendously the support that many of new this room have given us, testified at several of our hearings, scott, and others extremely helpful as well in providing information to the committee. it could not be done without the support and the help of experts like many of those in this room, and the support of the american public, but there's no question that, from the perspective of capitol hill, the problems of
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abuses in the justice department have been quite real, quite serious, and we are hoping very much that a new day has dawned, that we will see even further progress than we've seen so far in restoring justice to the name of the department of justice. thank you very much. [ applause ] >> before we move to the next speaker, i'm wondering if there are any questions for elliott. yes? >> the role of congress in all of this -- [ inaudible ] the department of justice didn't speak out against this. the department of justice, the congress appropriates the money.
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you're funding all of this enhanced interrogation, you're funding this thing at the department of justice. we need legislation that says no money will be spent on enhanced interrogation. we have -- the department of justice is just not -- they are not providing the oversight we needed, since we've had a completely democratic congress since 2007, they have not done that. we've got to get it done. they've ignored your subpoenas. you've got these things going on, but we really have to get congress to do their job on the laws and on the money. you're allowing the fed to give $12.8 trillion to these banks. congress is supposed to be doing that. the justice committee should be looking at each one of those laws. i can't say it any stronger than that. we need to get a congress and a justice committee. we do not have justice in this
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country. we need to get that. so i appreciate anything -- it's more of a statement than it is a question but is there anything along that line that we can look for in the future? >> well, we very much appreciate your comment, and we think we have done a lot since we took control of the house in 2007, as i tried to outline, and i think i tried to outline a number of additional initiatives that we're planning to undertake. fortunately, some of the abuses to which you refer, the administration has made it clear will not happen. the president has banned some of these so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, but we intend to continue to be vigilant, to continue to take action. the judiciary committee is not able to itself pass laws on some of the issues that you had mentioned so frankly, you should take your concerns more broadly to congress as well, but we will take very seriously all of your suggestions. thank you.
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>> scott? >> elliott, is the committee satisfied with the document production that the white house made on the bolton, miers and roves subpoenas and also did the white house invoke executive privilege with respect to any documents, and is the committee satisfied with that in case it did? >> well, some of that i can't answer yet because of the confidentiality restrictions that exist until the implementation of the agreement, but we do believe that within the confines of the agreement, which wasn't perfect, after all, when you negotiate something, you don't get everything you want, we believe that within the confines of the agreement we have gotten documents prior, to i think the date was march 8th, 2007, that i think you'll find when you see them, reveal some interesting additional information, but as the white house continued to claim that some materials are protected by
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privilege, absolutely. and we will need to make an evaluation once the agreement is fully implemented, as to whether we want to go back to court in any of the areas in which rights have been reserved, but i will say that we have gotten some very important and very useful documents that you'll be, i'm sure, among the first to be reading. >> hi, elliott, i'm from puerto ri rico, and perhaps when the selective prosecution investigations were taking place, i know one case in puerto rico with the governor of puerto rico was raise to the committee. however since it was ongoing their response from the committee was we're not touching that because it's not done yet. it's done now. what should be the process to raise it to the committee again, even though the investigation is over i guess. there are pending cases out
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there that should be investigated. what should be the way to do that? >> well, a couple of thoughts that occur. we did look into the puerto rico situation at the time. there are a number of possibilities. one significant possibility now that there is a new department of justice, which is concerned about what's been done in the public integrity section and others is to raise the concerns directly with the department. we would strongly encourage anybody on any case, not just the one that you mentioned, to do that. the other important thing to keep in mind is that there are some ongoing internal investigations occurring with the department of justice, and we think we want to let some of those run their course. with respect to cases where with respect to cases currently pending whether our post- conviction proceedings pending, we want to be careful we do not get accused of doing exactly
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what was improperly done in the firings of having political officials appear to intervene in particular cases. i think that you should make your concerns known, particularly to the justice department. we will continue to keep an eye on it. >> i have a couple of quick questions. i applaud the committee for the recent impeachment of a judge and the eloquent statements of the chairman on the importance of impeaching the judges with lifetime appointments. but why is everyone waiting for the report edited by the subjects of the report? it has been delayed for no apparent reasons. these memos are public. they constitute grounds for impeachment. if these individuals are subpoenaed and they do not appear and are not immediately compelled to appear, will the
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chairman use the capitol police for content? why is that funny? this is a serious question. >> it is not funny. i smile only because there have been serious discussions. there were in the last congress about the possibility of content. -- content. -- contempt. we believe we could get more relief by going to court. we did get a remarkable and ground-breaking decision on that. let me try to address your inquiries more broadly. i think said chairman feels strongly that we do want to see what the office says. this report is not being edited by these folks. as i understand it, they are being given the opportunity, as every segment of the report is,
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to comment on the report. the edits are being done in response to what they have said. that is very different from suggesting they will be able to edit any kind of report. very dierent, i think, than suggesting that they are going to be able to edit any kind of report. the chairman feels very strongly that the opr report, which we keep on being told is coming pretty soon, and this time i actually believe it, needs to be looked at carefully, and we need to have a hearing with all of the people involved to fully air what happened. i think we are focusing specifically on that right now. we will continue to on the impeachment front, not only have we impeached judge kent but there is a serious investigation going on now of judge portius in the case of louisiana who has apparently committed quite serious legal and other violations. is we have a pretty full agenda.
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i think the chairman is strongly committed to encouraging justice to get that report out as soon as possible. they're telling us it really is going to happen fairly soon and to having a hearing where we will, if necessary, subpoena those individuals to testify. i have every reason to believe that they will not defy those subpoenas. some of them, such as mr. ewe who has a pending civil lawsuit against him may be interesting as to which questions he will and won't answer. the committee has not hesitated to use enforcement powers where necessary as in the case of miers and bolton to find people in contempt as needed and do what needs to get done. yes, sir? >> a couple quick things, on the karl rove bill, i just drove up overnight from alabama and i've been covering this thing for the last couple of years and i was just curious to ask you while i've got you here on -- do you
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have a clear indication of when this interview is going to take place with karl rove? >> the interview has been scheduled. that has been publicly stated. i cannot give you any more information about it. >> [ inaudible ] -- the deal that was made with karl rove about whether or not this is under oath or not, are you satisfied that this is going to be something that's under oath, that's going to be on the record that he can't sfli. >> we are satisfied by those terms quite specifically. when this issue came up, the only offer that we could get from the prior administration was essentially an informal chat, as chairman conyers put it, like inviting mr. rove could go down for fish and chips and chatting a little bit and see what happens. this will be an on the record fully transcribed record, every word transcribed not just the committee but evidence in the public. second it's being conducted under the penalties of 18 u.s. code section 1001 which makes it a crime to lie to congress or
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even to withhold information that would produce material misrepresentations. now, i can't state what truth will and won't be told by witnesses, and we've seen many times in the past that failures of recollection often occur, but we are satisfied that those conditions, as were the same conditions that were done for the department of justice interviews that were undertaken, will be sufficient. we also have the -- the agreement also makes very clear one thing that the chairman absolutely insisted on, could have been a deal-breaker in the agreement was that the agreement says quite specifically that it does not preclude the possibility of public hearings, and that may yet happen. we can't evaluate that at this point because we obviously want to see what happens with respect to the -- >> on the warrantless wiretapping, considering the "new york times" recent sort of little break in that, i consider it a little break. i've been covering this issue for five years, and but
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everybody notices it when it's in the "new york times." can you say what the committee thinks about, is this continuing on a massive scale, and what would you say to people you think that are the subject of this? will you have any advice for them, who should they talk to? i tried to talk to the aclu in alabama but they got their four issues they're working o and haven't quite gotten around to it. we've got the google earth virtual alabama system in alabama which is the most invasive intrusion of privacy as far as i'm concerned in history. >> well you may want to go, frankly, to the national aclu, which has brought a lot of lawsuits on that issue. there are a number of other public interest organizations, one of which i used to work for, that is, that are interested in these kinds of issues. we, unfortunately, because of the classification restrictions, i can't say hardly anything about the specifics, but our members were quite concerned about that story, as the story
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itself indicated, and this has been said publicly, the intelligence committees which have primary oversight jurisdiction, have been gauged in investigations. i can say that we have contacted the nsa. we have gotten some information. we will continue to do that, but unfortunately, i can't really say much more than that, but we're concerned about it, yes. yes, ma'am? >> good morning, elliott. laverne jordan from the campaign for judicial correctness under the law. >> yes. >> our organization is more local. i'm going to make a statement and then i'm going to ask you two questions. one, the judiciary is clearly broken, and i think that you know that this has been going on for quite some time. this is no surprise. it's horrible to hear but it's actually no surprise, and so what i want to ask you is, one, what is the oversight committee prepared to do?
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what is mr. conyers' committee, both -- and he has the house. i understand that, and he's not on the senate side, but what is he prepared to do to correct these abuses, and, again, it's also on the local level, and i want to talk with you about that, and, two, why should you have confidence in the department of justice? i mean, what are you guys going to do about making sure that this is a new administration, that is committed to curing these abuses? because they're clearly just out of line with our constitution, and that's an embarrassment nationally, internationally, and this needs to stop. >> well, with respect to your concerns, with respect to the judiciary, the judges, we do have responsibility with respect
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to the federal judiciary, as i was indicating before, we have found two cases where it's been necessary to, in one case, impeach, and the other case, begin impeachment proceedings with respect to a federal judge, and we take those responsibilities very, very seriously. chairman conyers does. i'm happy to say that work is preceding on a very bipartisan basis. mr. shippe and goodlatt are heading the impeachment task force that continues to work, and we will continue to do that kind of oversight with respect to the federal judiciary. with respect to the justice department i tried to list ten areas where we've seen some very serious problems and i hope i didn't underestimate just how serious they are and i frankly haven't talked about everything, because there's more, but our view is that there has been improvement. no, not everyone may share this. but we do believe there has been improvement since january 20th, 2009.
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we believe the attorney general has made a commitment that has been carried out in some respects, some respects, to make a new day dawn in the justice department, but you are absolutely right that vigilance and oversight is critical. >> [ inaudible ] -- committee prepared to do -- >> well the answer is we have to see what happens. i mean, we hope, for example, that this administration won't necessitate subpoenas the way the last one did. we became quite accustomed to issuing subpoenas for documents, some of which were successful. we got about i with a woo say 95% of the justice department documents we asked for in the u.s. attorney scandal were turned over to us including as scott knows some very internal doj documents. we hope that this administration will not require subpoenas on issues, that we'll be able to voluntarily arrange to get the documents and interview what's
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happening. we've already had oversight hearings. we had attorney general holder and fbi director robert mueller not too long ago and there were quite serious questions on all of the issues raised here and many others that were asked by members and we will continue to follow up on the issue. it's hard to tell me in abstract what we'll do because we have to see what happens, but our strong hope is that this justice department will be willing to cooperate with congressional oversight and we will continue to push it, as need be. yes? >> i'm afraid we have to end this part of the program, but elliott is available, and can you be here for another minute or two in. >> well, not much longer. unfortunately, i need to get back for an oversight meeting, and in a few minutes on capitol hill, but i'll try to be here for at least a few minutes off to the side. >> thank you very much for an enlightening presentation, and we look forward to our next
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speaker. thank you so much, elliott. [ applause ] >> that was fantastic. thank you so much, elliott, and nan. without much further adieu, i could talk a lot about this, but in the interests of time i'm just going to say i'm totally thrilled to have, be able to present the former chief judge of the northern district of alabama, u.w. clemmen. a little bit of background, i wrote a quite lengthy article about the siegelman case in "the huffington post" that appeared may 15th, and i received shortly after that a copy of a letter that judge clemmen had written
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eric holder, the attorney general. he had actually written it just before my article came out, so i had nothing to do with it, but the attorney general had asked the chief judges and recent chief judges to help guide him on what he should know about the administration of justice in the country, and judge clemens stepped forward to offer his views after 30 years on the bench. he had been invited to speak to the judiciary committee, but he felt that, as a judge, he should not do it. he's now in private practice in birmingham, and i'm just thrilled at this opportunity to present nearly three decades of top level judicial experience for this audience here, and thanks to c-span nationwide. please help me welcome judge
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u.w. clemmen. [ applause ] >> i'm going to take a drink of water. it's my privilege to be here this morning. since i made a change of career, i don't have to drive all night to get to washington and i am taking full opportunity full exercise of my newly found first
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amendment rights, and actually, i wasn't invited by the judiciary committee to come. i invited thoem to subpoena me but without them doing that i couldn't come without violating some of the ethical constraints. earlier on in my life i was an eyewitness to the sometimes tragic results of unwarranted prosecuti prosecutions. then the prosecutions arose out of police brutality cases in the birmingham area. outlaws in blue uniforms w


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